The Chicks welcome author Daryl Wood Gerber, who offers a little insight into her fab foodie mysteries, including her latest, “A Deadly Eclair: A French Bistro Mystery.”
Who knew I’d have to cook to be a mystery author?
Luckily, I do cook and always have. As a young girl, I sold chocolate cream pies around the neighborhood. But I had no idea when I started writing mysteries that I’d actually write about a protagonist whose livelihood involved food, nor did I realize I’d have to create recipes to include in my books.
My first foray into “foodie” mysteries began with the Cheese Shop Mysteries, which I wrote as Avery Aames. I studied all things cheese.
I made numbers of recipes featuring cheese. Honestly, after seven books, I’ve become quite a maven. I’ve tasted over 1,000 cheeses. How else could I write about an authentic cheese shop owner without doing so? Have you tried my Five Mac ‘n Cheese recipe?
With my Cookbook Nook Mysteries, I focused on researching cookbooks. I’ve browsed thousands of them since the series’ inception. I’ve studied the recipes within. I’ve read “reviews” about the books to see what readers say. How else could my culinary bookshop owner, Jenna, know what was good if she didn’t know what fans said about the books? FYI, Jenna, isn’t a cook (like me), but she is a foodie, and she’s learning five ingredients at a time. She can make my Pirate’s Booty Fudge? Can you?
And now, for the French Bistro Mysteries, which are set in Napa Valley—the first of which comes out November 7, A Deadly Éclair—I’m writing about French food. Boy, oh boy, am I glad I chose this topic. Here’s why. When the idea of the French Bistro Mysteries came to me, I thought, uh-oh, I need to eat gluten-free. How can I ever cook French food? Three of the five “mother sauces” are made with flour!
Béchamel = milk, flour, butter
Velouté = white stock with roux (flour and butter)
Espagnole = brown stock with roux
Hollandaise = butter and eggs (not so bad – no flour)
Tomate Sauce = tomatoes, stock, vegetables, ham bone (no flour necessary)
But I challenged myself—I like a challenge—and I decided that I could cook French food if I tweaked it a lot. This task has really upped my cooking game. At first, I set out to find recipes I could make that didn’t require flour. There are tons. Have you ever tasted steak au poivre? Oh, my! Don’t miss the recipe I’ve included in this book!
But then I decided I could make even more. Be bold. Be daring. So I made éclairs, madeleine cookies, soufflés, and more—with and without gluten.
Okay, I am a mystery writer, so why am I cooking? Because my audience—cozy mystery readers who love to read about food—want authenticity. I plan to give it to them. In the process, I’m frequently treating myself to a great meal.
Do you appreciate when authors enjoy their research? Can you tell?
BIO: Agatha Award-winning Daryl Wood Gerber writes the brand new French Bistro Mysteries as well as the nationally bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries. As Avery Aames, she pens the popular Cheese Shop Mysteries. A DEADLY ÊCLAIR, the first French Bistro Mystery, comes out November 2017. Daryl also writes stand-alone suspense: DAY OF SECRETS and GIRL ON THE RUN. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote.” She loves to cook, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky who keeps her in line!
A Deadly Eclair: Mimi Rousseau is throwing the bistro’s first wedding—the nuptials of a famous talk show host. She is sure things will go awry when the bride’s father shows up drunk to the out-of-towners’ dinner. By the end of the evening, things look sweet again…until the next morning, when her benefactor is found dead at the bistro with an éclair stuffed in his mouth. All fingers point at Mimi, whose loan is forgiven if he dies. It’s up to her to éclair—er, clear—her name before the killer turns up the heat.